Just Five More Minutes…

Scenario: Your child desperately wants you to watch her dramatic reenactment of Snow White eating the poisoned apple. Or, your son is dying to show you the supersonic, intergalactic time machine he created from Legos. You, engrossed in something else, absentmindedly utter, “just five more minutes, honey.”

Has this scene ever played out in your home? (Does the sun rise everyday?) Don’t feel bad, it happens to almost all of us. I say “almost all of us” out of courtesy, but I really believe this happens to all of us. Some days our children are needier. Some days our plates are simply too full.

And, let’s be honest…are we ever “free” in the promised five minutes? No, usually not. The trouble is, we often need more than “just five more minutes” and we’re unwilling to walk away from our unfinished project.

So we attempt to stall, perhaps for the third or fourth time, and our children run out of patience. They pound on the door, pull on our clothing, or shove the toy on top of our workspace.

By now, we’re frustrated, maybe even really angry. But, is it really our child’s fault? No, of course not. It’s just that we easily forget our five-minute promise — that’s been stretched into ten, fifteen, or sometimes thirty minutes.

The best solution? Patience and planning. Tackle your important projects when you’re guaranteed an intrusion-free block of time. Think naptime, after bedtime, or “honey (hubby), you’re on for 30 minutes while I take care of this” time.

Can’t get the free time? Then schedule some dedicated floor-time with your child, say 15 minutes. You’ll be surprised how easily this buys you some mommy time in return. The key to this plan is setting your child’s expectations. Let him know he’ll have your undivided attention for 15 minutes, and then he’ll be playing on his own for a time (while you do your thing).

That magical block of (hopefully) interruption-free time will be a breath of fresh air. However, be sure to keep your ambitions in check. Don’t start something that can’t be finished or set aside after 15-20 minutes.

I know…only a scant 15 minutes? Yes, because expecting longer when you’re children aren’t old enough to entertain themselves is a recipe for disaster that will find you, once again, promising “…just five more minutes, really.”